Brad Rozansky is the principal of The Rozansky Group of Long & Foster Real Estate in Bethesda, Md.
Buying a new home is exciting — an opportunity to express your design aesthetic and your lifestyle priorities. You want to make sure the finished product you buy is everything you envision a new home will be.
When you buy an existing home, all the infrastructure is already there. But buying a new home can be a bit overwhelming. In a new home, you have to choose the aesthetics and infrastructure.
You’ll be making dozens of decisions — from paint colors to flooring selections to kitchen cabinet hinges — so it’s important to consider where you should spend and where you can save.
One of the biggest cost drivers is options — they can really add up. Offered a choice of wood flooring, we recently helped clients choose a more natural-looking product (versus one with a more uniform finish), which saved them more than $5,000.
Think carefully about how you really live. If you are not a cook now, you probably won’t be one in your new home either. Is that professional-series kitchen a good investment?
Many builders offer appliance packages: If you buy the Thermador package with a refrigerator, cooktop, and stove, they’ll often throw in a dishwasher, too.
Many builders allow buyers to customize their selections. If you have that option, look online for products where the shipping is free, and don’t take the first price as the final price. Even when shopping online for one lighting fixture for her new home, a client recently asked for a better price and got it.
Big beautiful windows, high ceilings and architectural columns all add architectural impact to a home. But as you are in the design-planning process, carefully consider how you will use each space. Will those windows allow unimpeded views but no place for a couch or chairs to enjoy them?
Two-story ceilings add drama, but so might the electric bill that comes with them. Think about how you will live, relax, entertain and work in your home so that it is livable uniquely to you.
But cutting costs is not always a good idea. In some cases, scrimping now may cause you frustration — and maybe even cost you money — in the long run. Here are several tips on how to prioritize decisions on some of the home’s other key components:
• Electrical outlets: You don’t want to have to walk through your sitting room to turn off your bedroom lights or plug in an extension cord every time you vacuum. Go over your plan with a fine-tooth comb, making sure you have access to electrical power everywhere you’ll want it.
• Technology: There’s no turning back — it’s here to stay. And your technology won’t be the same as your father’s technology. Look ahead to the technological tools that are on the horizon and try to build them into your home’s infrastructure. Don’t stop with your interior spaces either: Almost every auto manufacturer is building electric cars — don’t forget to put a charging station in your new garage.
But also keep in mind that technology becomes obsolete quickly. You wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money hard-wiring technology into your house that would be difficult to remove in a few years once it becomes outdated.
Insulation: If you are seriously thinking of making your new home a lifelong one, you may want to discuss foam insulation with your builder and architect. It is expensive, but there’s no place for cold or hot air to permeate your spaces, and foam insulation will keep your home incredibly air tight and comfortable.
Hot water: The “on demand” systems not only take up less space, they deliver hot water immediately. They are more expensive than a standard tank, but if you have a large family or multiple baths, the investment pays off. Alternatively, consider putting a $200 to $300 recirculating pump on your hot water heater — you’ll have access to hot water very quickly as well.
Moldings: In the scheme of things, chunkier molding is a relatively inexpensive upgrade. Use 5- to 7-inch base and 3- to 4-inch trim around your windows to create a look that is much more luxurious than the standard “builder grade” stock.
A generator: Prices have come down considerably on whole-house generators. Building one into your mortgage can be a cost-effective move (and sanity saver) that will preempt hastily made hotel reservations and throwing out an entire refrigerator of spoiled food the next time the power goes out.
Kitchen cabinets: Never buy poor quality kitchen cabinets. But beautiful counter surfaces and a custom backsplash are really the “eye candy” of a well-designed kitchen. Buy quality cabinets, dress them up with high-quality counters and tiles, and you will get a lot of bang for your buck.
A home inspection: It’s ideal to have a professional home inspection before the drywall goes up since it is exponentially cheaper to change things at this stage. Before your final walk-through, another home inspection is imperative. Never presume because your home is new that there will be no mistakes. Four pages of items from a new home inspection is not unusual — there are always mistakes.
Plan the details of your new home’s infrastructure and finishes, allocate your budget for the features and amenities that will make it uniquely yours, and monitor its construction with a builder who stands behind their work. If you do those things, you’ll have a much better chance of getting that “dream home” you envision at a cost that you expect.
Previously from Brad Rozansky: